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Barrel racers enjoy a day in the sun

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RONAN – The Lake County Fair Ranch Rodeo in conjunction with the Lake County Fair hosted its annual barrel race event to close out this year’s fair with a perfect sunny sky on Sunday.

“Today went very well,” said race co-organizer Sharon Guenzler. 

Barrel racing is a rodeo event in which a horse and rider attempt to complete a cloverleaf pattern around three barrels set up in a triangle. It requires precise turns and dedication from the rider to complete the course in the fastest time possible.

This year’s event attracted the largest group of horse riders compared to the past competitions, ranging in ages from 6 years old and up. More than 90 contestants from throughout Western Montana competed. “That is about 15 more entries than previous years,” said Guenzler.

The COVID-19 pandemic derailed many of the ranch rodeo scheduled events for the day, but barrel race organizers made the decision to stick with holding the competition, although concessions were canceled and the importance of social distancing was stressed. “We want to keep this event in Lake County a positive example of how our events can be successful and compliant for the health and wellbeing of all,” said race co-organizer Wendy Borgen McCaffree in a social media post.

Many of the riders were happy the race was not canceled like so many other events. One barrel racer, from the Bitterroot Valley, said she was excited to finally be able to get out and do some riding. “I have been chomping at the bit to get out and chase some cans all summer long,” she said chuckling.

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